‘Never believed in 9th place trophies’


Saipan Baseball League president Jay Santos gives members of the CNMI national baseball team pool a pep talk during the first day of tryouts at the Oleai track and field ampitheater in November 2021.

Responding to a call to give automatic slots for players from Tinian and Rota in the CNMI National Baseball Team, Saipan Baseball League’s outspoken president Jay Santos has this to say: “My thoughts are these…I never believed in 9th place trophies. I never believed in participation trophies.”

The Triple J executive, however, acknowledged that players from Tinian and Rota have talent but still not at par with their counterparts on Saipan.

“The players from those island were really good athletes but we’ve been asked by [the Northern Marianas Sports Association] and the organizing committee for the Mini Games to put forth our best 20 players to compete and win the Games.”

The CNMI will host its first ever Pacific Mini Games this year with the CNMI National Baseball Team serving as defending champions of the quadrennial event.

“I don’t believe in providing automatic slots for those specific islands and the reason I believe this is we’re not going to do them any favors as well…The mindset will be ‘maybe I don’t need to work so hard because I’m gonna be automatic anyway.’ And that just doesn’t work for me and it doesn’t work for manager Manny (Sablan) and any of the coaches (Deron Sablan and Gary Cruz),” added Santos.

The SBL president also assured players from Tinian and Rota that SBL will be assisting them to improve their talent pool so that in the next regional competition their players will have a chance to become part of the CNMI national team.

“They put forth effort and they were talented but unfortunately they just didn’t made the cut. I don’t agree having automatic slots for those islands and I’m hopeful that after the Mini Games the Saipan Baseball League will assist those guys by proving equipment or whatever to further baseball on those islands so they can be more competitive,” he said.

It can be recalled that Tinian Amateur Sports Association president Jose Kiyoshi batted for automatic slots for Tinian and Rota baseball players after Tinian players Dustin Sablan, Peter Cepeda, Bradley Lizama, and Bing Sablan and Rota players Luis Hocog and Daniel Rangamar didn’t make the first cut.

“This is one of the disadvantages Tinian and Rota face every time we have the opportunity to try out for the national team. My thoughts are they should give two automatic slots for Tinian and Rota in the national team,” he told Saipan Tribune in a social media message in late December.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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